Q&A with Todd Mitchell of SEEDS Global
During my research, I spent time with several farmers, chefs and entrepreneurs to find out how the movement is progressing on the ground. Today, I’d like to share my conversation with Alpharetta resident Todd Mitchell, the founder of SEEDS Global in Atlanta, as we discussed the local movement and its importance to a healthier lifestyle.
Why did you found SEEDS Global?
Todd Mitchell: To provide access to people who don’t get healthy food, healthy places to live. Just to change the landscape of the inner city to give people different options.
SEEDS is more like a co-op. We’re planning on building a mall for nonprofits that help inner-city communities. We don’t want to do it all. We want to partner with everybody.
We believe success is depending upon collaboration, not competition.
What options exist now in the inner city of Atlanta?
Mitchell: There’s plenty of local farms, but you would have to find them. They’re not under one hub or readily available. And in the inner city, there are a lot of people without internet. People don’t search; they aren’t thinking about healthy food, they’re thinking about survival.
But if we put something right in the neighborhood and we make it available, bring in kids and make it a comfortable place to come and learn and not feel any kind of way. I don’t believe that’s happening in the city right now, and we believe we will be able to help that way.
What’s the biggest challenge the farm-to-table movement faces in the inner city?
Mitchell: Commitment and community support. If we can get the community behind us, we can do anything. It’s just getting them interested in the process, and that takes education and presence.
We need people to participate, actually come out and help. Not necessarily people from outside the community coming; we have plenty of volunteers. But neighbors and people around need to come and get their hands in the soil, actually plant seeds, visit a farmers market, doing some of the work and talking about it, because word-of-mouth is where it’s at.
Getting cooking classes and all that other stuff is easy if you have community support.
With all the noise about GMOs, organic and local food, what should customers focus on with their food products?
Mitchell: Where did that food come from? Do they have a personal relationship with the person who grew that food? Most people would say no, including myself, because I shop at Whole Foods or I shop at a farmers market where I meet a farmer, but that’s different.
To get to know where your food is grown, who’s making it, what they’re putting in it…food is information. And if they’re putting junk in that food, you’re getting junk out whether it looks green, orange or whatever. If it’s junk in, it’s junk out.
If you could grow any five items regardless of climate, what would those five crops be?
Mitchell: I would love to have a watermelon patch, tomatoes, sage, basil and maybe Echinacea.